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Sarah Winchester: Spirited Lady or Spiritual Believer?

Probably the most persistent legend revolving around Sarah Winchester is that she not only believed in Spiritualism, but practiced the art herself.

Well-worn tales depict Sarah wending her lonely way to a special Séance Room every night to consult with the spirits about plans for her ever-expanding mansion, or locking herself into this very private chamber to commune with her lost loved-ones.

Sarah wending her lonely way to a special Séance Room every night

How much truth there is to these stories remains a mystery. Sarah herself never spoke of it. But if she did actually dabble in the occult, she would not have been unusual for her time. Spiritualism was extremely popular during Sarah’s life, especially among educated middle- and upper-class women.

Blue Cabinets

The appalling loss of human life during the American Civil War left hundreds of thousands of heartbroken women searching for a way to reconnect with those they had so tragically lost. To many, spiritualism and the “mediums” who practiced it seemed to offer such a way. And though there were plenty of charlatans looking to exploit wealthy women’s grief, there were also no doubt many who operated in good faith, out of a genuine desire to help.

Spooky Exterior Shot

There were even those who dabbled in the occult for amusement—treating séances as a sort of parlor game to entertain themselves and their friends.

But as far as Sarah Winchester is concerned, unless some secret cache of papers is one day discovered that answers the question of her beliefs once and for all, the truth will remain hers alone. Either way, the stories of this enigmatic woman’s belief in the occult will no doubt continue to be passed down for at least another hundred years.

This summer experience the Winchester Mystery House’s all new daily tour – Walk with Spirits – and explore the paranormal as explained through the Spiritualism movement. You will have the opportunity to not just learn, but to experience for yourself, what happens when the veil between this life and the next is lifted.  
During the Walk With Spirits Tour, guests will attend the wake for a departed soul in the parlor of the home, ascend to the third floor to experience a Victorian era seance and end in the dark and foreboding basement, home to the famous “Wheelbarrow Ghost”.  Tours are offered daily starting in July 2022. Learn more here.